Cooperation resolves traffic, repaving issues

info@islandpacket.comAugust 24, 2013 

The S.C. Department of Transportation wisely heeded local concerns and delayed repaving Beaufort's Bay Street until after the Labor Day holiday.

And in another road-related matter, Monday's first day of school brought a new traffic flow around Beaufort Elementary School, where a year ago, parents and residents alike complained about traffic jams.

We detect a pattern: Beaufortonians are easily roused when rubber meets the road, and they have a knack for getting their way.

A vehicle fee that would have been attached to Beaufort residents' property tax bills has been proposed in each of the past two budget cycles, but the cold reception prompted city officials to put down their collection plates and back away slowly. A similarly unpopular plan to install a traffic circle at the intersection of Ribaut Road and Boundary Street was nixed a few years ago, and many Bay Street merchants so detested the new parking kiosks planted in front of their shops that the city ripped them out in 2011, just months after installing them.

These can be learning experiences, and the city of Beaufort seems to be making an honest effort to be a conscientious pupil.

So when Bridges Preparatory School opened Monday at two sites on or near Boundary Street, city and police officials had already met with leaders of the charter school to discuss how to drop off and pick up students efficiently.

A similar discussion with the Beaufort County School District aimed to relieve at least some of the congestion that residents near Beaufort Elementary last year said kept them trapped in or blocked out of their driveways for as long as 30 minutes.

Giving concerned parties influence in making plans is preferable to tamping down their angry reactions to plans foisted upon them. The lesson stuck when it came to Bridges Preparatory; not so when the first schedule for repaving Bay Street was released.

The work is necessary, but it creates problems for those along a main thoroughfare in the downtown Historic District, no matter when it is done. Merchants didn't have much lead time to figure out how to recoup or reduce the amount of lost business. Neither did they like that the work was scheduled for what might be one of the last busy times of the summer.

Fortunately, the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce and state Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, helped get the right people talking to each other -- including DOT, the paving contractor and public utilities. The city played a key role in those talks by sending parking and public works officials to Bay Street to find out what business owners thought.

The result was that work along Bay Street was postponed until after Labor Day, an arrangement everyone could live with.

Mayor Billy Keyserling proclaimed the new work schedule a triumph of cooperation. Indeed, the city, the chamber, Erickson and DOT are among those to be commended for listening to their constituents.

Of course, Beaufortonians would settle for no less: They never shy away from sharing their thoughts about roads, parking and traffic.

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service